I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Cousin -- Fuyu no Fantasy(冬のファンタジー)

One interesting observation I have about Xmas commercials in Japan and in Canada/United States is that with the current Yuletide ads here, it's more about taking some lighthearted pokes at ol' Santa and the entire concept of the Holidays. Meanwhile in Japan, Xmas isn't even their original holiday but Japanese advertisers have just slathered their commercials in so much Norman Rockwell sentimentality that I often got this salmon-level need to get home in the years that I decided to stay in Ichikawa between December and January. "I NEED TO PUT UP A XMAS TREE....NOW!" was a frequent pulse in my head after catching a whole series of Xmas-themed ads in my adoptive nation. The above ad was one such example...and that was for beer.

The campaign song for Sapporo's Fuyu Monogatari Beer was Cousin's(カズン)"Fuyu no Fantasy" (Winter Fantasy) from October 1995. This singing and songwriting duo consisted of two real cousins, Izumi Koga and Hiroshi Urushido(古賀いずみ・漆戸啓), who met at a Tokyo recording studio in 1992 after having participated in their own musical pursuits and decided to join forces. Their very first output was a song created by them, "Obaachan no Tanjoubi"(おばあちゃんの誕生日...Grandma's Birthday)in tribute to their grandmother who had just passed away in 1993 with their first official single being "Ai Nante Shinjinai"(愛なんて信じない...I Don't Believe In This Thing Called Love)in 1995.

But their most famous song is "Fuyu no Fantasy", Cousin's 3rd single. Being somewhat of a J-Xmas song freak, I surprisingly didn't pay all that much attention to the song for a very long time. Perhaps I was a bit burned out on J-Xmas tunes at the time but that was indeed the case with me for several years when it came to "Fuyu no Fantasy". But hearing it performed in the most recent episode of NHK's "Kayo Concert" for the first time in a long time, I've actually started appreciating it more. Although there isn't any direct connection to Xmas in the lyrics by Cousin and Kazuko Kobayashi(小林和子), with those jingle bells and the hushed tones, I think this is an Xmas tune that even David Foster would have been envious about.

"Fuyu no Fantasy" peaked at No. 8 and quickly became the 62nd-ranked song for 1996, going Platinum. According to the J-Wiki article, Noriyuki Makihara(槇原敬之), no stranger to Xmas songs himself, participated in the backup vocals although he was not credited. This was the biggest hit for Cousin and it's certainly the one song that I always identify them with. The ballad is also a part of their 2nd album, "Love & Smile" from May 1996.

And with this, another Xmas season has begun on "Kayo Kyoku Plus".

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